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Starting a series of tweets on the Parable of the Two Sons (Luke 15:11-32), part of a climactic structure with the lost sheep + lost coin. We begin with an outcast audience in 15:1 'drawing near' as the older son 'drew near' in 15:26. Contrast 'far' in 15:13, 20. #Parableof2Sons
Language of proximity + distance in #Parableof2Sons parallels + contrasts deeper realities. Sinners are close to Jesus physically + spiritually. The older son is physically close to dad, but emotionally in a far land. The younger son is far physically, but close to dad's heart.
Two contrasting groups hear #Parableof2Sons (Luke 15:1-2). Like a #pixar kids' film with lines only the adults get, some parts of the story are only for real Bible geeks like the scribes. Jesus challenges them to spot how almost every part of his story comes from the OT.
For the expert scribes Jesus makes (by my count) 4 uses of language from the Laban-Jacob narrative. These support the bigger dependence of the parable on the narrative of Jacob and Esau - but I get ahead of myself. #Parableof2Sons #Laban #Jacob
Two verbs stand out from Israel's time in the wilderness: God's command 'hear' - what sinners do in Luke 15:1 vs what the Israel did, namely 'grumble' - what the scribes do (15:2). #Parableof2Sons
This is not the only parable which begins 'a man had two sons/children's. Matthew 21:28-32 does the same for a different story, though the characters there are like the audience in Luke 15. #Parableof2Sons
In Luke 16:28 the rich man claims he has 5 brothers. What's the logical problem with this and how does it relate to Luke 15? #Parableof2Sons #RichManandLazarus
In Luke 16 the Rich Man 3x calls Abraham 'father', insincerely. In Luke 15 the Prodigal 3x (including his rehearsed speech) calls his dad 'father'. Between these 2 sets of 3 is the striking absence of the term in the older son's speech in 15:29: 'Look...' #Parableof2Sons
One of the biggest mistakes in reading #Parableof2Sons is not to notice that Dad responds to the Prodigal by sharing everything with both sons. The story is not set in a particular country but in Jewish law Older Bro would get double, and he now owns the entire remaining farm.
Prodigal goes to a far country + 'wastes' possessions (15:13). The same verb begins the next parable in 16:1, so we have 2 adjacent parables about wasters, listened to by Pharisees, who love money (16:14), and therefore particularly hate toll collectors (15:1-2). #Parableof2Sons
Prodigal 'wasted his goodes with royetous livinge' (Tyndale). Why say more? Sin is seemingly interesting, but deeply boring. Jesus doesn't spoil a good story with boring details. #Parableof2Sons
'Coincidentally' when the Prodigal has spent all, a famine hits the particular country he's chosen. Mark Allan Powell tells that the famine was remembered as part of the story by more of his Russian students than of his American ones. #Parableof2Sons
There are two uses of the word 'began' at the two opposite poles of the Prodigal's experience: 'began to be in need' (15:14) and 'began to celebrate' (15:24). #Parableof2Sons
'He joined himself to one of the citizens of that country' (15:15). Ouch! The word 'citizen' really rubs in his alien status. Put in the plural it's worse. There are many citizens, but he's not one of them. #Parableof2Sons
Prodigal in sent into 'the fields' (15:15) paralleling Older Bro in the 'field' (15:25). Jesus tells the story with a degree of homiletic perfection. Every word counts - surely a good argument for Divine origin of Scripture. #Parableof2Sons
Prodigal feeds pigs - unclean animals + one of many links between this + Parable of Rich Man & Lazarus in following chapter, where dogs licked Lazarus. Pigs & dogs are paralleled in Matt 7:6. Same Guy teaching + thus a sign of authenticity in both gospels. #Parableof2Sons
Prodigal 'longed to be filled' ... followed by mention of unclean animals (15:16). Ditto Lazarus (16:21). #Parableof2Sons
Did the Prodigal get a job? Hardly. 'He joined himself' (15:15) - i.e. work without pay. He didn't even get the remains of the pigs' food. 'No one gave him anything' - legal experts in the crowd knew the Torah (e.g. Deut 15:10) enjoined giving to the destitute. #Parableof2Sons
I'm going to pause the series for someone to answer Jesus's knowledge challenge to the scribes: where in Scripture, other than Luke 15:20, does a man run, fall on someone's neck and then kiss them? Shocking answer. #Parableof2Sons
Jesus portrays Prodigal's Father in terms only elsewhere used of Esau. He ran, fell on the neck of younger brother returning from herding in distant land, + kissed him (Gen 33:4). Toll Collectors + Sinners may have missed the allusion. But what about Scribes? #Parableof2Sons
Analogy with Pixar film helps explain why Jesus's story works for biblical novices + also hits expert Scribes. Parallels with Jacob & Esau story run deep. Jacob goes with nothing to far land + returns with lots. Prodigal goes with lots + returns with nothing. #Parableof2Sons
Esau was cheated out of all inheritance by Little Bro. He has reason to be angry but isn't, even though proverbially reprobate. In Luke, Older Bro has inherited whole farm + is angry at risk of loss when Little Bro comes back prepared to work for his food. #Parableof2Sons
'A certain man had two sons'. Who's the most famous OT character to have 2 and only 2 sons? Of course, Isaac. His younger son cheated the older out of inheritance and blessing. Are the toll collectors and sinners of Luke 15:1 going to get both? #Parableof2Sons
Time passed slowly for the Prodigal's Father, but when his son returned his first word was 'Quick.' Just because past time is lost is not a reason to lose time now. Interestingly, his first words are to the servants, not the Prodigal. #Parableof2Sons
Another challenge for the Scribes: what OT passage do the ring and robe of 15:22 come from? #Parableof2Sons
How do verses from the surrounding context affect our reading: 14:26 ('if anyone ... does not hate his father...') + 16:13 ('he will either hate the one + love the other'), esp. when God loved Jacob + hated Esau? Deepest problem seems to be loving money in 16:14. #Parableof2Sons
Jacob to Esau after he ran to embrace him: 'I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God' (Gen 33:10). Esau's forgiveness and acceptance of Jacob is (partly) like the Father's acceptance of the Prodigal. #Parableof2Sons
The Younger Bro really desired food. I seem to remember Esau being desperate for food. Just one of many twists Jesus made relative to the Jacob-Esau story. #Parableof2Sons
Isaac really wanted meat. Got given goat. Here Older Bro complains of not being given even a goat. #Parableof2Sons
The Prodigal's father saw him far away. Jacob's father couldn't see him up close. Isaac says 'please come near'. Toll collectors and sinners come near to Jesus. Older Bro came near to the house. #Parableof2Sons
For good measure Jesus challenges Scribes with at least 4 allusions to the Jacob-Laban narrative. Can you see what they are? Answers soon. #Parableof2Sons
The sudden upgrade via ring and special robe for the Prodigal parallel Joseph's upgrade in Genesis 41:42. Jesus knows the Scriptures better than the Scribes. He brilliantly weaves OT allusions in for them to ponder. #Parableof2Sons
Laban-Jacob allusion 1. 'he has indeed devoured our money' (Gen 31:15) & 'who has devoured your property' (Luke 15:30). #Parableof2Sons
Allusion 2. 'I might have sent you away with mirth, and songs, with tambourine and lyre' (Gen 31:27) & (upon Younger Bro's return) 'he heard music and dancing' (Luke 15:25). #Parableof2Sons
Allusion 3. 'these twenty years I have been with you' (working) (Gen 31:38) & 'these many years I have served you' (Luke 15:29). #Parableof2Sons
Allusion 4. 'all that you see is mine' (Gen 31:43) & 'all that is mine is yours' (Luke 15:31).
I may have missed some allusions to the Laban narrative and, if so, will be delighted to hear. #Parableof2Sons
How do you feel about people who waste YOUR money? Angry? Ever felt tax-payer indignation? Jesus tells money-lovers two adjacent parables about 'wasters' (15:13; 16:1) + the surprisingly gracious responses of those who had their resources wasted (15:20; 16:8). #Parableof2Sons
The Prodigal asks to be treated as a servant when he is a son. The Older Bro thinks he's being treated as a slave when he is a son. #Parableof2Sons
Must look at more connections with surrounding parables. 'Rejoice/celebrate' = key term in stories of 100 sheep, 10 coins + 2 sons. Also, quite differently, is what Rich Man does daily in 16:19. Jesus makes parables like jewels, sparkling from different angles. #Parableof2Sons
'The older brother was in the field' (15:25). Implicitly working. This would surely be the guy to employ! He thinks he's slaving for Dad, but is in fact augmenting his own wealth. More about him tomorrow. #Parableof2Sons
15:26 Older Bro ‘called one of the servants’. The phrase ‘called one’ (Greek: proskalesamenos hena) is an exact match for when the Unjust Manager called a debtor in 16:5. #Parableof2Sons
15:27 Servant’s answer: ‘your brother has come’ is more prosaic than Father’s exclamation that he’s back from dead (15:24), but NB ‘your brother’ occurs here + 15:32. Sandwiched between these 2 is Older Bro’s denial of relationship: ‘this son of yours’ (15:30). #Parableof2Sons
Older Bro complains that he’s never been given a goat so that he could ‘celebrate’ (15:29) — so his celebration contrasts with the one in 15:24. #Parableof2Sons
Servant: ‘Your father has killed the fattened calf’; Older Bro to Dad: ‘You killed the fattened calf FOR HIM’. Even after starving in a foreign land I doubt Little Bro could eat a whole calf. #Parableof2Sons
Older Bro: ‘You never gave me a young goat’. Since Older Bro now owns everything (15:12) the complaint that Little Bro has a big animal (FAT calf) while Big Bro doesn’t even have a little one (YOUNG goat) is mad. #Parableof2Sons
Why does Older Bro suggest that he’s been denied meat on the farm for years? What is his logic? There is some, albeit wrong. Answers shortly. #Parableof2Sons
‘So that I might celebrate with my friends’ = super revealing phrase. The Shepherd (15:6) and Woman (15:9) celebrate with friends. The following parable says to make ‘friends’ (16:9). Older Bro can’t enjoy goat or his friends unless someone is absent. Who? #Parableof2Sons
15:29 shows Older Bro wants Father absent. Friends + meat are no good if Dad’s there. Word ‘come near’ occurs for Big Bro (15:25) + ‘far’ for Prodigal (15:13) but Prodigal always says ‘father’ + Big Bro doesn’t. Physical distances = opposite of relational ones. #Parableof2Sons
‘This son of yours who devoured your livelihood with prostitutes...’ (15:30). How does Big Bro know? Postcards? Only one possible answer: his imagination. Why does he imagine Younger Bro with prostitutes? Where would he like to be? #Parableof2Sons
When Father says ‘child, you are always with me and all my things are yours’ he’s speaking the literal truth. Older Bro owns everything. He is invited to enjoy his proximity and privilege. #Parableof2Sons
The parable ends leaving the Older Bro’s response unstated. This is not necessarily cos Older Bro rejects, but cos the open ending is an invitation to those like him to respond. #Parableof2Sons
You love money and are a Pharisee (16:14) and have never transgressed commands (15:29). You are Israel’s heirs. How do you feel about toll collectors and sinners who’ve worked against Israel rejoining the family? This applies way beyond historic Pharisees. #Parableof2Sons
It’s easy to demonize Pharisees, but we need to understand how normal they are. When it says they ‘loved money’ there’s no reason to think this refers to particularly high level of greed, unusual in West today. Pharisees are orthodox, family based + hard working. #Parableof2Sons
I’m concluding here my series on #Parableof2Sons which has not expounded the whole, but has mainly focussed on what can get missed. If you think it’s helpful please RT. I will take a brief break to tweet on other matters and then begin a series on the Rich Man and Lazarus.
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